Desert Rose Gardening: What to do in May 2016

                                                                                                       By Sharon Radice Moore

Pierre de Ronsard:

Pierre de Ronsard:


I grow roses; actually roses, herbs, vegetables and nut grass, because truthfully there are few places I would rather be than in my garden. Only there do I exist in serene symbiosis with the plants, people and wildlife I adore.Nevertheless, as the calendar fades from spring to summer, I know I must hasten to gather the last of my rosebuds for bouquets, potpourri, teas and oils before the end of May as summer will soon beckon at my garden gate.


Labors of Love for May:

Traditionally, in the desert rose garden, May is the month to begin transitioning from spring to summer with the primary focus(s) on PREPARATION and PROTECTION. Given the early onset of summer temperatures this year (again), this is vital if not critical to begin this transition in May.

Tools: Better Homes and Garden

Tools: Better Homes and Garden

Soon your last bloom cycle of the season will disappear into memory. Flower production will diminish; bloom size shrinks; color fades, leaves scorch and canes darken. This can be startling, yet it is only unique to growing roses in the desert.

FERTILIZING: May is the last month before summer that I feed/fertilize my roses. Any later and frail new growth cannot withstand the intense heat and may not survive. Some gardeners feed half strength throughout the summer months going full strength again with their end of summer clean-up and light pruning in late September or early October. However, I do often feed half strength SUPERthrive to those struggling with summers sizzle.

WATER is the key to your rose garden surviving the summer and living to bloom again in the fall. This is best done early in the morning or after 3:30 p.m. daily. When the temperatures are consistently 85 degrees and above, which I think started in January this year, irrigate twice a day.

Certainly, a controversy still active within the rose community is whether overhead or low-flooding irrigation systems are superior.

Nonetheless, one thing is DEFINITE, an early morning high-powered spraying down of your roses, in addition to their regular watering, is mutually agreed to be beneficial. This removes many pests and the magically reappearing sand no matter how many times you brush, broom or spray it away.

Second only to watering, you must inspect, repair, replace, and adjust sprinklers routinely. Our intense heat can crack even new equipment. The high mineral content in our water can build-up in the heads limiting volume and heavy growth can restrict output and re-direct spray.

Drip irrigation systems are especially vulnerable to disrepair; watch them closely even if depressing to visit the rose garden deep into the summer season.

PESTS: Check for pests often. Most commonly found in the desert are spider mites and aphid. Yes, we also suffer with powdery mildew, leafcutter bees, and the dreaded hoplia beetle; however, spider mites are my particular nemesis. Indeed, they are not spiders at all, even so, if killing or maiming my roses, I want them gone without reverence to ancestry.

Spider Mite Webbing: Gail Trimble -

Spider Mite Webbing: Gail Trimble 

These unwelcome guests, the two-spotted spider mite or Tetranychus urticae, called by its friends, is the one most common to roses. They prefer hot and dry conditions, dust (sand anyone) and adore heat reflected from pavement and walls. Spider mites loathe cold and wet climates; nevertheless, their populations can explode when warm and humid conditions prevail.

Mostly likely, you will first notice their visit by observing a yellow speckling on the lower leaves of  your plant where they begin their journey upward after arriving on the winds.

Because they are so tiny and dragging a microscope into the garden unseemly, tap the suspected foliage over a white sheet of paper and if small dots appear, congratulations, garden guests arrived and dinner (your roses) is already being served.

Next, turn the leaf over, and you will find a fine silken web devoid of any pattern or design used to cover themselves from predators and hold discarded mite skins, dead mites, mite eggs and poop. They are lousy housekeepers.

As they multiple the entire plant can be covered, which is why early detection and action is critical. Spider mites feed by sucking the sap from your plant and can defoliate the whole bush in record time. One summer I was away for a week, and they consumed my tomato garden of six plants.

A light infestation can be controlled by expelling them with a high-powered water blast from a hose at the first sighting for three consecutive days to stop the infestation before it starts, early morning is best, paying special attention to the underside of the leaves as well as the top. Spider mites turn away from wet places, but will return faithfully without diligence at their door.

The good news is their life cycle is as short as two weeks, so a good spraying off a couple of times a week, after the initial three-day  elimination period, is beneficial for their continued demise and for many other unwelcome garden guests as well.

Soaps, oils and miticides are available, if your infestation is advanced. Still, using the same product repeatedly can provoke a resistance and may will kill mite predators AND bees, so inquire of your nurseryman and read for yourself before you indulge.

Finally, (at last) the most vulnerable plants for spider mites to infest are minis, potted plants and Rugosas, because they appear to enjoy the texture of the leaves.

Aphid Infestation: University of Florida

Aphid Infestation: University of Florida

Aphids can be eliminated as can hoplia beetles, by picking them off with your hands; I suggest using gloves.

Conversely, why not take a bit of help from nature and invest in a large supply of ladybugs, aphid’s natural predator, and set them free in your garden. Ladybugs are sometimes available at garden centers and always by mail order.

Peculiarly, the hoplia beetle and leafcutter bees have two things in common. Both are seasonal, and neither can be completely eliminated. Patience and time’s passage are your only allies with these destructive pests.


The hoplia beetle, also identified as the grapevine hoplia flies into our gardens from March to May. They feed on rose petals, predominately light-colored ones and other plants leaving tiny holes in a lacey pattern behind as their signature.

The preferred method of managing their infestation, if light, is to pick them off and discard them in a bucket of soapy water. One research source I studied also suggested leaving containers of soapy water among your plants. This is purported to fascinate hoplia’s, causing them to drown in the containers. No, I do not believe in Santa either; and I digress.

Hoplia Beetle: Blado Villegas

Hoplia Beetle: Blado Villegas


Unfortunately, hoplia’s often tuck themselves deep into the folds of the petals making them difficult to find. Do not be fooled by this behavior; they are not shy. Hoplia’s freely mate on host plants, and bury their eggs in soil where they overwinter, thrive on a diet of plant roots and live to destroy more blossoms the following spring. Again, spraying is not recommended as chemicals can harm bees and is only effective upon contact.


Leafcutter bees, placing aside the damage they do, are one of the most curious creatures in my rose garden.

Leafcutter Bee Damage:

Leafcutter Bee Damage:

Leafcutter Bee:

Leafcutter Bee:

These unique visitants are present, usually beginning in early spring, when distinctive semicircular cuts about ¾ of an inch in diameter appear on the edges of your rose leaves. Unlike most pests, leafcutter bees do not use these cut pieces for food.

Instead, they use them to construct their nest cells, often in large rose canes where they previously created tunnels in the pith. The female bee endows each leaf-lined cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen, lays an egg and seals the cell closed. A finished nest may contain over a dozen such cells forming a tube 4 to 8 inches long. Young bees develop in their cells remaining there until they emerge the following season. One adult female can lay in her two-month life cycle, up to 35 to 40 eggs!

Insecticides are ineffective prevention from this pest. Instead, seal exposed rose canes with white glue or products sold for this purpose after pruning to prevent “tunneling.”

Even if you do not see any pests, washing down your foliage twice a week or more is a simple preventive practice, and an invigorating start to your day. If you have roses under attack, a regular serving (once a week) of SUPERthrive, can assist in restoring them to wellness by strengthening their core constitution.

 MAINTENANCE: When deadheading, and cleaning your roses, remember protecting their canes from sunburn is one of your topmost priorities for the summer months. This means leaving unsightly dry, scorched leaves on your roses to protect their canes.  I will never get used to this part of desert gardening. Painfully, I can attest to its need. My first year in the Coachella Valley I confess to murdering several roses by making them “pretty” until they died of cane sun scalding intensified by a lack of mulch.

RESTORE MULCH: (from two to four inches) to both your in ground roses and those in pots. Even if you only do this for the summer, your roses will suffer less heat-stress, return more robustly in the fall, and survive another summer. Even if you do not mulch your entire garden, consider applying mulch in the hottest areas.

Brilliant Pink Iceberg

Brilliant Pink Iceberg: File


Pay close attention to potted plants. If they dry out, they may not survive. Grouping pots close together can help them retain moisture as well as using moisture retaining potting soil initially. Furthermore, when adding additional soil due to shrinkage from the heat, do not forget to add some in the bottom too!





Photo Credits:

Pierre de Ronsard:

Garden Tools: Home & Garden

Spider Mite Webbing: Gail Trimble Marin Rose Society

Aphid Infestation: University of Florida

Hoplia Beetle: Baldo Villegas

Leafcutter Bee Damage:

Leafcutter Bee:


Until next time: from my garden to yours,

       Think Rosy Thoughts, Sharon





Desert Rose Gardening: What to do in April 2016

By Sharon Radice Moore

Lady of the Dawn - Sharon Moore

Lady of the Dawn – Sharon Moore

Once upon a time in the Coachella Valley, we enjoyed rejuvenating autumns, gentle winters,  abundant springs and tolerably scorching summers.

Amid this rich tapestry of weather events, each season (while some insist we have none) arrived at the anticipated interval and lasted for the appropriate period. With this history, results in the rose garden were forever predictable. It was a simple plan.

Then, without invitation, came intolerable endless rouge summers, tardy falls, shy winters and premature springs. This year is an outstanding example of the new “normal.”

This springs offering of erratic temperatures fluctuating between spring and summer highs, produced both an early outrageous initial display of blossoms and blissfully extended the blooming season. Nevertheless, in the euphoria of these early-bird blossoms, one can only wonder if summer is soon upon us.

Alas, the rose garden, not unlike the world around it, has become unpredictable. Observing these changes, which lack the grace of subtlety, is admirable; acting upon them is critical! Staying flexible without regard to former year’s timely tasks and acting instead of reacting to today’s gardening needs will serve both you and your garden.

Therefore, with the threat of a possible untimely summer on the horizon, it is imperative we use our gardening hours wisely and efficiently this April with an eye towards summer preparations as well.

 Labors of Love for April:

April in the rose garden concentrates upon keeping all the preparing, pruning, fertilizing, weeding and planting momentum results going by:

House and Garden

          House and Garden

  • Feeding and Fertilizing – whether you choose to use chemical or organic sources, the best practice is to be consistent with your use. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, adjust for the type, size, and age of the rose and most critical – water before and after applications.

Deadheading, the practice of removing dead or spent blossoms, weeding (yes, you can overcome nut grass, but not in this lifetime), removing twiggy growth and suckers keeps your roses healthy, promotes repeat blooming, and keeps your garden clean.

Adjust watering for warmer temperatures.

Restoring mulch (from two to four inches) will nourish plants, retain moisture, cool the soil, and suppress weed growth; do not forget your potted plants, as they dry out first. With the unanticipated early summer temperatures, I cannot stress mulching enough, especially with sandy soil devoid of organic matter. Try putting your fingers into sandy soil on a sizzling afternoon and consider your roots near the surface.

  • Disbudding can produce some impressive results in the size and quality of your blooms. This practice is how you produce those large-flowered thoroughly envied roses.

When disbudding a one bloom to a stem rose, like hybrid teas, you remove the side buds at the leaf axels below the main bloom.

Blue Moon Rosales Libros Gisela

          Blue Moon – Rosales Libros Gisela

When disbudding roses blooming in clusters, like floribundas, first determine the number of buds with which you are working. If you find a central bud and only one or two side buds, remove the side buds and leave the one in the center.   If several buds are present, remove the central bud of the cluster, as it will open and fade before the rest. This will enable all the buds in the cluster to bloom at the same time.

Disbudding is most efficient when growth is young by using your thumb and fingers, gently rub the tiny buds out of position and separate them from the plant at the angle created between the leaf and the stem.

  • Removing excess young growth going to the inside of your plants will promote good air circulation and diminish the environment promoting powdery mildew.
  • Check for spider mite and aphid (plant lice) activity and remove them by using a strong blast of water from a hose. Early in the morning is the best time to do this and doing it for three consecutive days assures their removal, until more arrive. Do not forget to spray off the underside of your leaves, as they love to hide there. Spider mites ride on the winds to your garden, which explains their numbers.

    Spider Mite

    Spider Mite – Planet Natural

For spraying off these uninvited pest guests on potted plants, I use a spray bottle filled with water daily until they disappear; yes, this takes forever. Nevertheless, I lost many a beloved mini rose to these demons! Note: with the spray bottle, you must get intimately close to achieve a good spray off, turning the leaves until the little creatures of mass destruction depart.

You can also remove aphid with your hands; however, I go with the hose. With both pests, it is critical you start at the first sight of them. They can take hold in a cardiac second and destroy an entire bush in a blink.

Go after powdery mildew with vigor! In the early stages, you can eliminate it by using a strong blast of water from a hose, also best done in the early morning. Later, either chemical or organic sprays must be used.

  • This year’s forceful sand storms and high humidity created an environment unhealthy for roses. While controversy exists between the virtues of overhead watering versus ground watering, roses benefit from clean leaves. They take in moisture, nutriments and synthesize sunlight through their leaves. Therefore, a regular blast of cleansing water, best done early in the morning will promote their good health.
  • Continue to plant container roses.

Until next time; from my garden to yours,

   Think Rosy Thoughts, Sharon

 Photo Credits:

Lady of the Dawn: Sharon Radice Moore (file)

Gardening Tools: House & Garden

Aphid: Planet Natural

Blue Moon: Rosales Libros Gisela


Desert Rose Gardening: What to do in March 2016

By Sharon Radice Moore


 I love surprises. However, I fear lurking in the surprising, yet welcome premature warm breath of spring, is the promise of another misbegotten scorched-earth summer.

Nevertheless, in the mesmerizing sight of fresh sunlit green to deep claret colored leaves and the early abundance of vibrant and fragrant blossoms, I place aside my suspicions. For this panorama of blissful elegance, I forgive the weather god’s their ever-evolving climate cycles that stir my mind to memory and still my heart.

tools better homes and gardensLabors of Love for March:

A one-word description of March gardening tasks would be FEED for the organic among you and FERTILIZE   for the inorganic.

Fertilize and feed following the manufacturer’s instructions once you have one-inch or more of new growth after pruning. For the organic assemblage, you may feed immediately after pruning, which is best done in January or February for optimum results.

The frequency of fertilizing/feeding can vary from product to product depending on the concentration of nutrients. Established roses traditionally require application about every four weeks with granular products. Liquid products often call for re-application more regularly because they wash down past the root zone quickly; granular products must dissolve first.


  • In the low desert, we continue to fertilize and feed until the weather becomes too hot, usually in June. Then resume our program in late September or early October after the fall light pruning and summer garden clean up. Yet, a considerable number of rose gardeners are continuing to feed at half the normal concentration, or even less, during the hot summer months. Should you choose to do this, be mindful of the plants wasted energy used to produce young growth that cannot withstand our intense summers.
  • Always water your roses well both before and after fertilizer is applied to avoid burning any tiny roots near the surface and move nutrients from the soil into the plant. When using granular products, you must work them into the soil to release the potassium making it available to the plant.
  • Potassium supplies overall plant health and hardiness to heat, drought, and cold in addition to acting as a catalyst for nitrogen (promotes leaf growth and green foliage) and phosphorus (encourages root growth in addition to flowering).
  • Charles de Gaulle Rosales GisellaRoses are not gourmets; they will be productive on whatever diet you supply. The key is regularity, irrespective of timing or type of product, for a consistent array of blossoms.
  • Continue to add soil amendments and restore mulch from two to four While we do not need the moisture retention so much this part of the year, you are continuing to build the soils biomass and nourish your plants.
  • Plant container roses in the coldest part of the day and shortly after you bring them home. I mix one-half organic planting mix with one-half garden soil watered in with SUPERthrive® (a vitamin and hormone amendment) to get the optimum results.

Check new growth and remove side buds to improve the size and quality of the blossoms. Prune with your fingers, rather than tools, to remove excess growth going to the inside of the plant.


  • Your roses are not the only new growth in your garden. Young tender leaves, as the night follows the day, coincide with the arrival of spider mites and aphids.

Check for spider mite and aphid (plant lice) activity and eradicate them by using a strong blast of water from a hose. Early in the day is the best time to do this and doing it for three consecutive days assures their removal, until more arrive anyway. Do not forget the underside of your leaves, as they love to hide there. You can also remove aphids with your hands; I suggest disposable rubber gloves for this activity! My particular nemeses are spider mites on potted roses.

Spider Mite Web

Spider Mites

My particular nemeses are spider mites on potted roses.



Unfortunately, a strong blast from a hose risks both knocking a small pot to the ground with likely breakage; plus potentially over watering large and small potted plants alike.

Snails, yes, we do have them, leave a trail of slime behind to let you know that they have invaded your garden. Try leaving lettuce leaves, or citrus peels among your plants, whereby they have a place to conceal themselves and feed during the night. In the morning, gather up the snails, drop them in a container of soapy water with a tight lid and invite them to join the other recyclables.


Until next time, from my garden to yours,

Think Rosy Thoughts, Sharon


Photo Credits:

Leonardo da Vinci – Rosales Gisella

Gardening Tools – House and Garden

Charles de Gaulle – Rosales Gisella

Rose Aphids – University of Florida

Spider Mites – Planet Natural



Desert Rose Gardening Essentials – February 2016

By Sharon Radice Moore

Childs Play

Child’s Play  – Photo by  Jackson & Perkins

February in the Coachella Valley is an engaging month filled with wonder and waiting. Many days I find myself wondering if I should wear my raincoat or a sundress. Other times I ponder if I will blister from the mischievous soon to be penetrating spring sun, or cover my citrus and herbs to protect them from yet another startling overnight freeze.

I wait upon the will of the garden gods to restore my “naked ladies” (freshly pruned rose bushes) to their splendor while I rejoice in the magic of our Valley’s winter.

Few geographic locations afford the luxury of driving with one’s sunroof open because it is winter and 72°. Whilst enjoying a rare view of snow crowned mountains above a desert floor.

Nevertheless, my roses care not for my poetic musings; they just keep doing what roses do, and my fascination of them and indenture to them rages on.

In February, if you have not funded the time to prune as yet, remember it is better to prune late than not at all. Yet, it is still best to complete your pruning in January and essential by the end of February.

This timetable will assure your roses enough “growing” time to renew themselves, and provide you with the maximum number of blooming cycles prior to taking their leave of summer’s peril, when blooming is curtailed.

Not only is winter the best time to welcome new growth in your rose garden via pruning; it is a brilliant time to plant roses, and to move or dispose of those that did not perform as expected – may they rest in peace or in someone else’s garden forever more.

Here are some tips to assist you with February’s work in the rose garden:

  • After pruning, wait to fertilize until about one-inch of new growth appears. Unless you are using organics, then immediately pruning is appropriate.
  • Continue to plant bare root and container roses this month, which is best done without delay after bringing them home. January and February remain the most desirable months to plant in our climate. Should your garden suffer from poor soil conditions, think about increasing the size of your planting holes to give your roses ample space to grow in the finest soil possible.
  • Prior to purchasing, you may want to research your rose selections through to determine if they are right for your garden.
    Dancing Flame

    Dancing Flame – Photo by Peter Alonso

    Often I have found the new love of my life is heat sensitive, too tall, too short, or does not repeat bloom, etc.

  • Remember to keep your bare root roses well hydrated until planted. Open and remove them from their bags or boxes immediately and submerge them in a container of water for at least twenty-four hours and up to three days prior to planting; just a drop of Superthrive can help with new home shock as well. Along these lines, I prefer to buy container roses as I see exactly what I am purchasing.
  • Remember our desert soil is almost devoid of any organic matter, so what you give your rose in the planting hole is all that will nourish it. To plant, mix one-half organic planting mix with one-half garden soil, plus your chosen amendments, for the optimum outcome.
  • Replenish soil amendments for established roses and add three to four inches of mulch or compost on top.
  • Soil Amendments are defined as anything added or mixed with the soil. Even so, different additives work in a variety of ways to perfect your soil.
  • For example, compost and manure advance your soils ability to germinate seeds and for roots to spread by loosening it. Loose soil allows earthworms, and other beneficial life forms to travel with ease through your soil, improving its structure with their adventures and leaving behind rich organic waste.
  • Compost and manure also add nutritional value, primarily nitrogen. However, their most significant component is their organic matter. This nurtures microorganisms, which convert present nutrients to a form efficiently used by your plant to feed itself.

    Leonidas - Photo by Sharon Moore

    Leonidas – Photo by Sharon Moore

  • Fertilizer, by legal description, must supply a minimum amount of specific minerals. The basic ones are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, often referred to as the NPH and expressed on the packaging, as a group of numbers like, 10-10-10. These are the fundamental mineral requirements for most plant life. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth, and green foliage, phosphorous encourages root development, and flowering. Potassium supplies overall health and hardiness to heat, drought and cold plus acting as a catalyst for nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Many brands contain additional trace elements and other organic essentials like meals (cottonseed, kelp, alfalfa, blood, bone, and soybean) that decompose over time improving the soil structure.
  • Some, like liquid kelp meal and fish emulsion not only fertilize, but also break down organic matter making it more available for your roses to feed themselves.
  • Wood chips, hay, straw, grass clippings, wood ash, and others alive or previously alive, are considered “organic” amendments. They will enhance soil drainage, aerate, improve the PH (acidy), and provide some nutritional value. Some believe wood chips can rob the soil of nitrogen, so watch for slow growth if you use them.
  • Bone meal and pulverized crab or oyster shells contribute potassium, phosphorus, and calcium which when used with sand can moderate acidic soil. Blood meal is dried blood and high in nitrogen.
  • Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) works both alone and in harmony with fertilizers enhancing their efficacy. It stimulates new stronger canes, larger flowers and verdant green foliage.

    Playboy - Photo by Sharon Moore

    Playboy – Photo by Sharon Moore


  • Inorganic amendments are those not originating from living things. Examples of these are vermiculite, perlite, sand and pea gravel. Vermiculite and perlite added to soil increase its ability to retain water, while sand and pea gravel remedy soil retaining too much water. Sand and gypsum will loosen heavy clay ground.
  • Roses benefit from adding amendments the same way we benefit from nourishing ourselves with food, vitamins and minerals. Their soil is the foundation of their lives as our bodies are the foundation of ours. Healthy soil equals healthy, strong roses and happy gardeners.


Until next time…from my garden to yours,

Think Rosy Thoughts!


Pruning in the Desert Rose Garden…

Snow covered rose

For those of us who endeavor to grow roses in the desert, this has been an exasperating year.

Summer came too early, stayed too long and gave birth to a profound, bone-chilling winter overnight. Thus, be away 2015 and let us rejoice for 2016 is here!

For we desert dwellers, the most serious task of the year is pruning, real pruning in contrast to the trimming we do at the end of summer (late September into early October) to clean up summer’s  scorching madness.

Because much is made of it, pruning can seem an intimidating task. Yet, it is simple and the essential difference between a few good blossoms and a pedestrian stopping rose garden. Not unlike most achievements, skill is developed with education, practice and the knowledge that most mistakes will grow out quickly and ‘tis better to prune than not.

Why Do We Prune Roses?

Pruning serves to revive the plant, encouraging the growth of strong canes capable of producing, and supporting the maximum number of blooms, which for most of us is why we grow roses.

How is this Accomplished?

The information below is general, and applies fundamentally to hybrid tea roses. Nevertheless, I have never seen anything in print as successful in practice as seeing a pruning demonstration in person or an online video. There are excellent videos online covering every type of rose in your garden, I suggest you view in addition to these general instructions.

  1. Remove broken, dying, dead, diseased wood and any appearing dry, shriveled or dark. Cut down each cane until the inside is white and fresh. Furthermore, retire all old wood. Many roses bloom best on new wood and tend to have reduced blooms on those advanced in years.
  1. Make your cuts at a 45°angle, about ¼ inch above a bud facing toward the outside of the plant. Your cuts must be clean, and not ragged or splintered.
  2. Allow to remain 3 to 8 of the strongest canes for the new season. Reduce the overall height to 18 to 24 inches, approximately ½ to 2/3 of the plant’s height. Consider, the shorter you prune, the fewer blooms will appear, however, the flowers will be larger. Pruning making the cut from Heirloom RosesPruning Finishing the cut Heirloom Roses

4. Prune away weak or twiggy branches thinner than the diameter of a pencil (hybrid teas, grandifloras, shrubs and climbers). Pruning canes smaller than a pencil







Pruning congested canes - need air circulation

Congested Canes – Needing  air circulation.

Pruning canes opened to air circulation

Pruned canes allowing air circulation.

5. Prune to open the center of the plant to allow light penetration and air circulation. A congested plant invites dampness to remain on both the plant and ground, which can promote fungal diseases like powdery mildew and blackspot on the plant. On the ground, humid conditions tempt insects like slugs and spider mites to appear, making your plant their home and food supply.
6. Remove interior and crossing branches, which will further allow optimum air circulation through the center of the plant. Pruning crossed canesRemove any remaining leaves to encourage the growth of new leaves.

8. Remove sucker growth below the graft.





Tools You Will Need:

  1. By-Pass pruners – never anvil type, they can crush your canes. Classice Pruner


  1. By-Pass long handled loppers.
  2. Corona LoppersShort folding saw. Folding Saw
  3. Thick gloves in both long and short lengths. glove


When pruning you may want to consider the time it takes to redress your naked ladies with new growth and blossoms by pruning the plants that take the longest grow-back time first. This means pruning your climbers (I include my English Roses) first, then grandifloras, hybrid teas, floribundas and minis – as if the minis ever stop blooming! ________________________________________

After pruning simply follow these guidelines, and you will be back in bloom in from six (6) to eight (8) weeks or sooner depending on the types of roses you are growing and how hard you prune:

  • Sanitize the beds by removing all the debris (cuttings, dead leaves, and weeds) to the appropriate disposal container. Composting this debris is ill advised due to the potential for retaining insects and disease and spreading them throughout your garden.
  • Wait to fertilize until about one-inch of growth appears unless you are using organics, then immediately after pruning is appropriate.
  • Replace support stakes and ties, repair trellis, and estimate your future needs while the plants are low and easy to navigate around.
  • Check, clean, repair, and replace sprinkler heads.
  • Check your supply of fertilizers, planting mix, potting mix, organic meals, Superthrive, super phosphate, iron, sprays, insecticidal soap, plant ties, and the condition of your gloves. These things sell out quickly in paradise, especially the organics.
  • Check any roses growing in pots for soil shrinkage and supply additional soil to both the top and bottom of the pot. This is critical now as our spring growing season approaches. I find it hard to believe how much disappears over summer.
  • Replace mulch to two to four inches high around each plant and add soil amendments.
  • Find new places to grow roses. It is best to order and or/buy early as the selection gets smaller every year.

Photo Credits:

Gloria Breashears (rose)

Heirloom Roses (pruning canes)

File (tools)


Until next time, from my garden to yours –

Think Rosy Thoughts,


Peace: The Refugee Rose



Thanksgiving morning is a busy time filled with expectation, joy, anxiety and sometimes, raw courage. Since it too early for a calming and sanity restoring glass of wine before my twelve guests arrive, I choose a moment of serenity in the rose garden, and on second thought, just a small glass for medicinal purposes. After all, I am predominately Italian and Greek and in those countries, wine is a timeless beverage.

In my rose garden, beverage in hand, the time machine in my mind took me to the years when at my family’s Thanksgiving table, each of us was asked to describe what we were thankful for that day. Those were simple times and how easy it was to consider a generous number of answers.

Today, with the morning news my singular companion amid the day’s preparations, and yet on my mind, I struggled with how I would answer if asked today. It appears; we stand again on the precipice of a world war in an ageless clash of philosophies, while helpless refugees flood Europe and threaten to come to our shores hiding possible terrorists among them frightening Americans beyond their innate humanities.

I feared my holidays delight would dissolve into a black melancholy conjured by the morning news, until my eyes fell upon the “Peace” rose, born in a time of similar circumstance. Even if you know the story, it may be soul renewing to review once again.

The “Peace” rose, officially named Rosa ‘Madame A. Meilland’ was developed in the years 1935 to 1939 by third-generation French horticulturist, Francis Meilland working with his father in their commercial rose growing nursery and fields near Lyon, France.

Francis and his father, “Papa” Meilland, decided to name the rose in honor of Francis’s mother Claudia Dubreuil Meilland, who died tragically young of cancer. However, initially “Peace” was known only as 3-35-40.

In June of 1939, rose 3-35-40 attracted significant interest at the International Conference of Rose Growers in Lyon, France. In Germany, mad man Adolph Hitler after mesmerizing the German people moved across Europe with unimaginable speed to occupy France by May of 1940.

The Meilland family feared their fields would suffer the complications of war, if not their total destruction. Thus, acting quickly in advance of the German invasion, shipped all of their rose stock to friends in Turkey, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Wartime communication was meager. Even so, soon heartbreaking news arrived that the shipment to Turkey was destroyed when the German army seized the train carrying the stock. Subsequently, news arrived that shipments to Germany, where the rose was named, ‘Gloria Dei’ (Latin for glory to God) and to Italy, where 3-35-40 was called ‘Gioia’ (Italian for Joy), were successful.

The United States and Germany were enemy combatants, thus trade embargoes prevailed and communication nonexistent. The only way to ship the rose stock to the United States was to smuggle it out of France in a diplomatic satchel on one of the last planes to leave France prior to the German invasion (possibly the Hollywood version.)

Peace 122315Robert Pyle of Conrad-Pyle/Star Roses in the United States received the rose stock and successfully propagated 3-35-40, and submitted it to the AARS for its three-year testing program. With the liberation of France in 1944, and communication restored, Robert Pyle extolled the success of 3-35-40 to Francis Meilland and requested a name for the rose.

In early 1945, the Meilland family put aside the name, ‘Madame A. Meilland’, and contacted Field Marshal Alan Brooke, the principal author of the master strategy said to have won the war while at the same time playing an essential role in the liberation of France. In addition to offering their gratitude to Brooke for his service, they inquired if he would consider giving his name to the rose. Brooke declined the honor, saying he believed his name would soon be forgotten. Instead, he offered the name “Peace” as a substitute due to its enduring quality.

Even while the war raged on in Europe, the release date for the “Peace” rose was set for April 29, 1945 to coincide with the Pacific Rose Societies Annual Exhibition in Pasadena, California.

Mysteriously, on the same day, Berlin fell to the Allies, a truce declared and an enduring peace began in Europe. As part of the ceremony to launch the “Peace” rose, two doves were released to symbolize freedom and 3-35-40 received its commercial name with this statement:

“We are persuaded that this greatest new rose of our time should be named for the world’s greatest desire: ‘PEACE’.”

On May 8, 1945, each of the delegates of the recently created United Nations attending the inaugural meeting in San Francisco received a bloom of the “Peace” rose, accompanied by this message from the Secretary of the American Rose Society:

“We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

“Peace” is a hybrid tea rose, growing 4 to 6 ½ feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide with superior vigor, disease resistance, half shade tolerance and winter hardy to -9°F. “Peace” forms elegant buds of 40 to 43 petals opening to large cupped flowers with high centers and an average diameter of 6 inches. Its color combination of pale yellow with crimson edges is dependent on location and weather for its intensity. Peace has a fruity fragrance, varying in strength from mild to strong.

Chicago Peace 20150325_113402_resizedSeveral sports of “Peace” exist. ‘Chicago Peace’ (Johnson 1962) is a stunning combination of deep rich crimson with apricot, while ‘Flaming Peace’ (aka ‘Kronenbourg’, McCready 1966) offers profound claret petals with a contrasting yellow reverse. ‘Lucky Piece’ with its tricky spelling (Gordon 1958) is a pink blend with a strong fragrance, and ‘Peaceport’ a curious intense apricot with pink tones. The ‘Climbing Peace’ rose combines all the beauty of ‘Peace’ in larger flowers, yet, fewer of them.

In addition to these “sports” over 300 (known, others exist) commercial rose’s boast “Peace” as part of their ancestry. Some of these roses are ‘Garden Party’ (Swim 1959), ‘Super Star’ (Tantau 1960), ‘Pullman Orient Express’ (Lim & Twomey 1991), and ‘Pink Peace’ (Meiland 1958).

The “Peace” rose has been a part of every rose garden I have ever planted or seek to plant, selling over one hundred million by 1992.  I hope you will consider giving “Peace” a place in your garden and your heart.

Lastly, I want to wish all of you a peaceful and magnificent holiday season from my garden to yours.

Until next time…

Sharon Radice Moore


Yves Piaget: The Rose

Yves Piaget 2015-12-07 10 34 31There are few roses in my garden that halt visitors for a closer look faster than Yves Piaget. Named for the famous Swiss clockmaker, who also makes the trophy for the finest rose in the Geneva Rose Competition, its pedigree suits it perfectly.

Yves Piaget is a commanding deep mauve pink hybrid tea rose with old-fashioned cupped, globularly formed blossoms measuring an average diameter of 5 inches with approximately 80 petals blooming in flushes throughout the season.

Moreover, while the color is startling, the robust rose scent is from the gods. It is the perfect cut rose, filling any room with both color and scent. In the garden, Yves Piaget is of medium height and width (3 to 4 feet by 2 to 3 feet), bushy with semi-glossy dark-green foliage.

Bred by Jacques Mouchotte (France 1983)

Introduced in France by Meilland et Cie in 1983

Yves Piaget is commercially available in the United States, and grows well in USDA zones 7b and warmer.

Think Rosy Thoughts,

Sharon Radice Moore

Early Winter Growing Tips – In the Desert Rose Garden

In the Desert Rose Garden…

November and December 2015

Leonidas This morning on my walk through the rose garden, what a pleasure to experience falls welcome nod to winter. However, I have only a fleeting recollection of fall. Somehow, I took my rest one fall eve and awoke the next morning to winters first embraces and summer’s wicked rage just a faint memory.

Whereas on a day like today, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet from the Portuguese 43, reinvented and applied to roses, is vivid in my memory.

How do I love thee dear and gentle rose?

I love the breathtaking depth and intensity of color long forgotten and deeply desired all summer.

I love the plentiful array of multi-colored green, bronze and orange leaves replacing the sad, torn and brown of the season past.

I love the evolution of tiny blossoms often hidden among the leaves from summer’s sizzle now emerging stately, large and strong once more.

For me, these things make a simple walk through the rose garden, an “ideal grace” and the work of growing roses a true labor of love.

Early Winter Gardening Tips:

While this month is more about enjoying than laboring in the rose garden, here are some tips to help your garden thrive:

  • Adjust your watering times and duration. Four to five minutes once a day or every other day depending on rainfall (keep the faith), temperature, and humidity work well in my garden. In truth, the best method is to turn the system off. Then water the amount needed, when needed, without allowing your plants to dry out. This year seems to be more humid than others of late, so this approach may work best in your garden as well.

However, mind your potted plants. Even if I am growing moss in the beds, still the pots can be dry. In addition, if you have not added potting soil, both on the top and bottom, to compensate from summer’s shrinkage or better referred to as disappearance, do so now.

I find using moisture- retaining potting soil in them works best along with heavy mulch on top. I also like to find a friendly worm or two to relocate into my potted and planter plants to keep the organic matter coming without a trip to the nursery. This works well for me, as for the worms, maybe not so much.

  • PlayboyIf you regularly deadhead your roses, the blossoms will keep coming. However, do not go too deep, re-growth will be slow due to the cold temperatures (yes, I am kidding if you are from New York).
  • I fertilize for the last time in November predicated on pruning in January. Fertilizing much later will only waste the plant’s energy, your energy and fertilizer dollars.

Conversely, you may wish to use half strength or a product with low to zero nitrogen (the first number in the formula listed on each package, for example, 10-20-10) which produces growth or use a formula with a higher second number, which is phosphorous, to promote flowering. The best fertilizers for roses always have a higher second number in their composition.

If organics fit your fancy, you might consider a serving of bone meal alone, which is all phosphorous, to promote continued blooming. Keep in mind using organics (bone meal), which need from three to four weeks to show results, this late in the season may be useless depending on the date you use them and when you plan to prune.

Happy Frog Bone MealI plan my fertilizer agenda around a January pruning date, if you are going to be pruning later, which is not the best plan if you want to maximize the number of spring bloom cycles, go ahead and keep fertilizing into December.

  • Remove weeds and fallen leaves; these are great places for insects to thrive and disease to develop.
  • Inspect your bushes often. With our increased humidity, spider mites and mildew take up residence between blinks. Note: they display a curious lust for minis and can move at once from annoying leaf damage to plant death.
  • Sharpen your pruners and loppers in preparation for pruning in January. I started something a couple of years ago that may make some old Rosarians eyes bleed. My garden boasts a little over 200 roses, and I was, due to their size and degree of difficulty, leaving my climbers until the end to prune. This is a poor plan because they take the longest to grow back, which is another article So, still with me? I prune my climbers after everything else in October or early November. This gives me plenty of time to do a good job and enjoy the work. Then in January, I give them a mere trimming as I did in the rest of the rose garden in the fall. Classice Pruner
  • Fall/winter is also a perfect time to plant roses, so they enjoy enough time to develop a strong root system prior to summer. I would start earlier than previous years to find your new roses. Last year, the amount offered was pathetic. Mail order is a good alternative; even so, sadly their inventories are already “out of stock” on many roses. Just because a rose is in the catalogue or offered online does not mean it is “in stock.”
  • Consider some companion plants for your roses now. Therefore, when pruning time comes you have color in the garden, and some cover for your “naked ladies.” Selecting the correct companion plants and proper planting practices will offer not only beauty in a barren period but often chase away pests, improve the organics of your soil, suppress weeds, and keep your roots cool by creating a living mulch. Nevertheless, be ever mindful your “companions” roots do not encroach on their host’s or steal their water.


Until Next Time – Have a rosy holiday season!

Sharon Radice Moore

This entry was posted on November 18, 2015. 2 Comments

In the Desert Rose Garden – October 2015

Chicago Peace 20150325_113402_resized

There are few places in America where temperatures forecast in the low 100s are considered a cooling trend. The Coachella Valley is one of them, and my roses tell the tale all too tragically.

This summer of the twelve summers I look back upon, will live in my memory as the summer of diversity and adversity. Although we experienced some pleasurable moments of our famous dry heat, we were also besieged by hot humid days complete with thunder, lighting and wind.

As if this abundant potpourri was not enough, September continued to chase me out of the garden with its relentless scorching. While the “browning” of the desert, without mercy, plagued anything growing in the displeasure of the sun.

Many a mornings stroll into my rose garden became a  tear-filled tour of what once was my soul renewing Wonderland, now a solitary painful assessment of loss.

Until one morning, when I spotted amid the carnage of brown burnt leaves and darkened canes nestled in vibrant fresh and tender fall leaves, one perfectly sized, scented, colored and shaped rose. It had survived the wicked summer, and was the most beautiful rose I had ever seen! This triumphant event continued to unfold everywhere in my rose garden, and I hope in yours.

Due to the heat, I had not finished my fall trimming and clean up as timely as planned. Nonetheless, Mother Nature was not waiting for me, and we all know “Mother Knows Best.”

The desert rose garden in October concentrates if not celebrates new growth, plentiful blossoms and the special color of fall leaves.

October Gardening Tips:

tools better homes and gardensOctober is about finishing your fall clean up and trimming. Followed by feeding, fertilizing and watching for other new growths in the garden; namely insects, disease and weeds.

Your roses will return to blooming with little beyond a nod from  Mother Nature; your job is to keep them in bloom providing bountiful bouquets at the ready through your holiday season. The best way to accomplish this is with regular feeding and fertilizing.

  • Unlike spring, unless you are using organics in the spring, you can start your feeding and fertilizing program at once after trimming.

Whether you choose to use in-organic (chemical) or organic fertilizers, the best practice is to be consistent with their use. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, and adjust for the type, size, and age of the rose. Equally as important is to water both before and after each application.

Organic vs. In-Organic:

 Organic (natural) fertilizers are made from previously living plant or animal organisms. The most common of these are: blood meal, cottonseed meal, bone meal, alfalfa and fish meals. In addition, manure from chicken, rabbit and steer makes up this category.

Organics require decomposition by soil micro-organisms before they are usable by the plant. Therefore, organics are slower to release, yet beneficial to both the plant and soil making them an integral part of your program, at a minimum, on an alternating basis.

In-Organic (chemical or man-made) fertilizers provide immediate release to the plant making them excellent products for heavy-feeding roses. However, in-organics do nothing to build the bio-mass of the soil.


  • N-P-K is considered a formula for success. These letters indicate that fertilizer is a blend of Nitrogen, Phosphorus (Phosphate) and Potassium (Potash). The numbers on the product refer to the percentage of each in the particular blend inside. Fertilizer, by law, must have this information printed on the package.





There are many different formulas on the market designed to achieve results as defined in the areas below.

  • Nitrogen is necessary for growth, strength, and green foliage. A fertilizer with a higher first number (10-5-5) will focus on these areas. Thus, one might use this formula at the beginning of a season after trimming or pruning. Note: Nitrogen travels through soil in haste and needs to be replenished more often.
  • Phosphorous promotes root growth, plant health and abundant better blooms. A fertilizer with the second number higher (10-20-10) will concentrate in these areas. This formula is used to produce the maximum number of flowers.

Phosphorous moves through soil without haste at only one inch per annum. Therefore, often a fertilizer high in  phosphorous will be added to the planting hole putting it in prompt touch with the lower roots.

  • Potassium (Potash) adds overall vigor to the plant and is essential for health and resistance to diseases. More importantly, it acts as a catalyst for the release of Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
  • There are often micronutrients (iron, zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, boron, chlorine and molybdenum) added to fertilizers in small amounts. Roses only need minute quantities; nevertheless, these micronutrients are best used by the rose in their chelated form.
  • Do not forget to feed your plants and soil, in particular, if you use chemical fertilizer, with amendments (covered last month) like: manures, meals, compost, guanos, mycorrhiza and Epsom salts. Need I mention, as always, a little more mulch on top, and you can rest.

Think Rosy Thoughts,  Sharon Radice Moore



Welcome Back!

In the Rose Garden

September 2015

April In Paris

April in Paris

The Coachella Valley is a special place to live, if you do not consider our “hot” little secret; summer  is  deadly. While we can pack up our clothes and cowardice and go away to cooler climates, our roses must remain behind; captive either in ground or worse yet, in pots. Of course, we water, mulch and otherwise protect the most tender as best we can. Nevertheless, some will be claimed and leave our gardens forever.

With tragedy my unwelcome companion, I rarely venture into the summer garden (I grow roses, herbs and vegetables) preferring to hold their past images in the grace of remembrance. I think of memories as silken threads connecting me to yesterday and dreams as memories yet unborn.

For me, time spent in the garden is a combination of gardening, remembering and dreaming (planning for the less poetic). Often I joke with friends saying I keep my sanity in the garden. The truth being, both my sanity and spirit lie there in eternal embrace; making summer with its wicked sizzle, an authentic demon in my otherwise private paradise.

However, the certainty of late summer into early fall when the sun becomes shy and the morning gentle is soon upon us. Let us rejoice! Fall in the Coachella Valley is the longest and most prolific season for rose gardeners; even out performing spring in its abundance. Due to the cooler weather, the buds develop slowly and produce larger flowers and stunningly beautiful leaves.

You may find this hard to imagine should you dare sojourn into your rose garden prior to mid-September into early October. Nonetheless, stay your faith, and engage your remembrance, your roses will rise from their brown and battered state into fall magnificence, with a little help from you.

Start by keeping a vigilant eye out for sustained temperatures below 100 degrees in the daytime and 80 degrees at night. When this occurs, start your fall clean-up and trimming in the coolest part of your garden. It is easy to be seduced by early cool crisp September mornings that suddenly spiral into the infamous last blasts of summer so common in the Coachella Valley in the fall. These blasts can incinerate new growth, scald canes and kill roses.

Fall Gardening Tips:

  • Unlike spring when we do our “hard” pruning, fall is a trimming and clean-up, so remove only what is needed to stimulate and tidy the plant. Treat each rose individually. prune-pruningangleStart your trimming by making cuts at a 45-degree angle ¼ to ½ inch above the nearest outward facing bud eye, slopping down and away. Remove dead canes, crossed stems, blind shoots and stems smaller than a lead pencil, burnt lifeless leaves, and any “twiggy” growth.
  • In addition, you may want to consider trimming the roses slowest to re-bloom first, or those appearing to need the most help. The re-bloom cycles from slowest to shortest after trimming/pruning are climbers, hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, shrubs, minifloras, miniatures and container-grown roses, in that order. Several of my minis only needed some serious deadheading and dead leaf removal this year. Above all, treat each rose individually.

The one exception I make to this protocol is I give my climbers their spring hard pruning in October. This works very well for both of us. Too many springs found me short on time to give my full attention to my climbers thus the genesis of this plan was born. In the spring, I give them their October light trimming, and we are both blooming happy!

Climbing Fourth of July

Climbing Fourth of July

Furthermore, unlike spring, unless you are using organics in the spring, start your fall fertilizing and feeding program immediately after trimming. Blooms will appear again in about six (6) to eight (8) weeks or less depending on the type of rose and how much trimming it required.

Often I like to include some fish emulsion alternately when I do not use other fertilizes. Fish emulsion is especially important to begin the season, for its high nitrogen (5-1-1) component, which stimulates growth. Whereas, most rose fertilizers concentrate on phosphorus (like Magnum Rose Food @ 8-10-8) to stimulate for blossoms. Dilute the fish emulsion per the manufacturer’s instructions. Then apply the solution to each plant at a rate of at least one gallon for each hybrid tea, climber, shrub or floribunda, and one-half gallon for mini roses depending on their size.

  • Add soil amendments:
    • Epsom salts for larger flowers at about ½ to ¾ cup per plant scratched in around the base of the plant at the drip line.
    • Add Mycorrhiza to nourish the root system on established roses and in the planting hole for new additions. Follow manufactures instructions for amounts and timing (heat can destroy or reduce potency).
    • Manures to improve the biomass and provide additional organic fodder to feed the plant. Scratch this in lightly if at all, as it can burn the plant. Even so, our desert soil, no matter how much mulch I apply is starved for organic matter from its summer scorching, come the fall.
    • In addition, provide a layer of compost topped with additional mulch restoring it in combination to about three to four inches above the ground. The amount of mulch the soil consumes every summer is startling.
    • Do not forget your potted roses!
      Brilliant Pink Iceberg

      Brilliant Pink Iceberg

      Every year they need fresh soil added on both the top and the bottom, plus a top layer of mulch. A great tip from a real “desert rat” neighbor of mine is to scratch in a little course sand with the mulch. The sand helps the mulch not to “harden” holding water from penetrating to the roots. Speaking of roots, another tip is to put used tea bags over the hole in the bottom of the pot. The tea bags keep the water from racing through and holds moisture for a little longer.


    • Adjust your watering to changes in temperature. When daytime temperatures fall below 85 degrees, watering once a day is sufficient for fewer minutes depending on the micro- climate in your garden. Just be sure you are watering long enough to reach the roots. Inspect your sprinkler system carefully; the summer heat can cause many parts to crack and split often below the ground.

Fall is for planting also! In fact, fall is one of the best seasons to plant roses in the Coachella Valley. Unlike a spring planting, this time interval allows them longer to establish themselves before they face the survival test of a desert summer. Most of all relax and enjoy yourself; the beautiful roses you remember will soon be back.


Think Rosy Thoughts,

Sharon Radice Moore

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